Amy Van Winkle

Amy Van Winkle is an encaustic artist living and working in Santa Fe, NM, with her husband, Michael, their son and two dogs. Although her early artistic career focused on drawing, sketching, and mixed media works, she now works exclusively with the Encaustic medium. Encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos meaning “to burn in” and is a mixture of beeswax and damar resin (crystallized tree sap). Greek artists were using wax paint to adorn marble statues, murals, boats, and even architecture. The laborious process of heating the wax on a coal fire and painting while hot eventually grew out of style, but the unique process of the medium helped many ancient artworks survive thousands of years. Today, the Encaustic medium has made a resurgence (thanks to modern tools such as blowtorches) and contemporary artists have revitalized this primitive method with modern aesthetics. 

For Van Winkle, the choice to become an artist was simple: “I create art because it makes me happy.” A common theme through Van Winkle’s works is transition. There is a distinct shift between layers and colors throughout individual work that speaks to the changing nature of the world and her own life. She is inspired by architecture, nature, and the vibrant colors of New Mexico. Although she plans her compositions in advance, there is always an element of surprise when her torch touches the wax. The finished result is often a delicate-looking surface that has survived the merciless scraping and heating of multiple layers of wax.